SVI 25: Social Venture Institute

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Living Locally

Universal Access accesses community at SVI 25

September 29, 2020

After an accident left him paralyzed at 19, Sean Crump understood first-hand the challenges of inaccessible spaces. Armed with this understanding, and a desire for a more inclusive city, Sean launched Universal Access, a company that is on a mission to build technology that enables businesses, architects and governments to effortlessly assess the accessibility of their spaces.

Universal Access saw success in advancing an agenda of accessibility, and establishing a trusted brand in Calgary in its early years, but a turning point of new opportunity came for the company through a conversation with a friend while attending Social Venture Institute* in 2019.

This friend was Derek Deacon-Rogers, founder of GenerousSolutions, a company that delivers accessible registration, ticketing, and payment processing systems. Sean and Derek sat down one night during a social hour and started talking about what it might look like for their companies to collaborate on a deeper level.

“We’ve always had a relationship where we support one another and bounce ideas off one another” Derek said. “The conversation at SVI allowed us to consider what an even closer relationship might look like – one that was not just supportive, but collaborative. We left SVI motivated to explore what the two companies together could accomplish, and to determine if it was the right decision for our clients.”

As it turned out, it was, and Universal Access and GenerousSolutions began merging their operations in January of 2020. “Bringing two values aligned businesses together has allowed us to combine complementary skill sets and leverage existing technology to enable us to open more doors for people living with disabilities.” Sean says. “This is truly an example of 1+1=5”

Looking forward, the company has many exciting things on the horizon. “We are weeks away from launching the first version of our accessibility assessment technology that allows any single point of entry space the opportunity to self-assess for free, and this is only the first piece of technology we anticipate launching in the last quarter of 2020.” Sean says.

Progress doesn’t come without growing pains, however, and Sean and Derek are turning back to SVI this year to support them in navigating the road ahead, through a case study they’ll share with other attendees. “Our case study challenge is: How do we incorporate a merger, internally scale at the right time, and find the right people – while still maintaining the mission, values and culture that has brought us to this point.” Derek shared.

The pair will receive support from their peers as well as expert input from a curated panel. “We hope to pull from the wisdom of the panelists and the crowd to help us avoid some of the mistakes already made by the attendees.” Derek says. “We also hope to identify some key individuals who have direct experience with some of the external opportunities we have before us.”

With SVI a few short weeks away, and many new offerings for Universal Access on the horizon, it will no doubt be a busy end to 2020. With the partnership of one another, and support of the SVI community, Derek and Sean are excited to move forward, embrace what comes, and support accessibility in their communities in even bigger and more powerful ways.

*SVI is a gathering of mission-driven leaders. It provides the opportunity for attendees to connect, share challenges, successes, and experiences with peers in an atmosphere of trust and goodwill.

Sound like something you’d like to be a part of? Join SVI Virtual from October 13-16th. For details and to apply visit this page.
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